Apple announces 'Lincoln's Dilemma' documentary exploring the journey to end slavery

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in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV
A new four-part docuseries coming to Apple TV+ will offer a new look at Abraham Lincoln and what it took to end slavery in the United States.




Apple describes 'Lincoln's Dilemma' as a "21st-century examination of a complicated man and the people and events that shaped his evolving stance on slavery." The series is designed to be a nuanced look into not only Lincoln but the narratives of enslaved people.

The series will be narrated by Jeffrey Wright and features the voices of Bill Camp as Abraham Lincoln and Leslie Odom Jr. as Frederick Douglass.

'Lincoln's Dilemma' is based on acclaimed historian David S. Reynolds' award-winning book, "Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times." It is produced by Eden Productions and Kunhardt Films.

The new docuseries joins a growing catalog of titles in Apple TV+'s library, including "Boys State," "The Velvet Underground," and "Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds."

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,089member
    Looking forward to this!
    We look on the battle to end slavery as a simplified, black and white question of:  "Should people own people -- or not"?
    But, in actuality it was far more complex than, for instance, climate change is today:  Today we say "We have to end the use of fossil fuels to save the planet" -- and that is widely accepted as true.  But then you get all those who depend on the fossil fuels industry and the power it produces saying "Wow!  Just one minute!  That's my livelihood you're taking away".

    Likewise, ending slavery was taking away the system that many southerners depended on for their livelihood.  

    It wasn't just freeing slaves, it was destroying the system that many Americans depended on.
    Then, you had both scientists and religious leaders muddying the waters by claiming that slavery was GOOD for those black people -- because, according to them, blacks were not human and needed to be managed like animals.

    How does one maneuver through so many political landmines?
    I doubt we would be up to it in today's America.  If nothing else, some senator would invoke the filibuster and stop any and all debate while talking heads ridiculed the idea of "destroying the wonderful culture at the heart of America" with wild and crazed ideas about freeing slaves who "depended on slavery for their food, shelter and clothing".

    It was complicated.  Far more complicated than any issues facing us today.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 2 of 14
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 933member
    I wonder if they’re going to include Lincoln’s abysmal record of treatment of native Americans, or of that will be conveniently left out?
  • Reply 3 of 14
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,089member
    mac_dog said:
    I wonder if they’re going to include Lincoln’s abysmal record of treatment of native Americans, or of that will be conveniently left out?

    Not relevant -- unless you want to condemn the entire country in the 100 years preceeding Lincoln as well as after.

    Actually, you should be more concerned about how we treat them in today's supposedly woke world.

    Personally it bothers me that people will impose today's values and laws on yesterday's people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day.  Shouldn't we be more concerned about the profound injustices going on today?
  • Reply 4 of 14
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,309member
    Looking forward to this!
    We look on the battle to end slavery as a simplified, black and white question of:  "Should people own people -- or not"?
    But, in actuality it was far more complex than, for instance, climate change is today:  Today we say "We have to end the use of fossil fuels to save the planet" -- and that is widely accepted as true.  But then you get all those who depend on the fossil fuels industry and the power it produces saying "Wow!  Just one minute!  That's my livelihood you're taking away".

    Likewise, ending slavery was taking away the system that many southerners depended on for their livelihood.  

    It wasn't just freeing slaves, it was destroying the system that many Americans depended on.
    Then, you had both scientists and religious leaders muddying the waters by claiming that slavery was GOOD for those black people -- because, according to them, blacks were not human and needed to be managed like animals.

    How does one maneuver through so many political landmines?
    I doubt we would be up to it in today's America.  If nothing else, some senator would invoke the filibuster and stop any and all debate while talking heads ridiculed the idea of "destroying the wonderful culture at the heart of America" with wild and crazed ideas about freeing slaves who "depended on slavery for their food, shelter and clothing".

    It was complicated.  Far more complicated than any issues facing us today.
    You should probably watch this series. Senator John C. Calhoun, the 'father of the filibuster,' made all the above fact-free, racist arguments about the 'benefits' of slavery, and developed the filibuster specifically as a tool to thwart Senate actions that could be a threat to the preservation of slavery.

    Prior to the Civil War, the cumulative dollar value of slave holdings in the US exceeded the cumulative dollar value of all other business and industry. Much like the present, that wealth was held by a relative few patrician elites, mostly in the South. Also like the present, the vast majority of the Southern populace did not have any personal stake in that wealth, but were manipulated by fear-mongering and racist arguments into serving the wealthy elites' interests by giving their support (and in fact their lives during the war). Poor whites supported it because no matter how bad things were for them, they could at least see themselves as superior to enslaved black people. Blind racism assured that it never occurred to poor Southern whites that their own employment and wage prospects were greatly diminished when the rich folks could get labor for free from people they 'owned.'

    Sure, slavery was 'complicated,' because it was so intertwined into the antebellum social economy, but it was no more 'complicated' than pressing issues today. Owning other people is wrong, and even slave holders like Jefferson and Washington knew it. It was only 'complicated' because facing up to that fact forced unpleasant decisions, making sacrifices to give up ill-gotten benefits and privileges based on past wrong decisions, and fighting through all the lying, cheating and coordinated misinformation efforts generated by those who valued their own wealth more than doing right by others. None of those things are more complicated than or unfamiliar to our current lives. In fact, all of that should be unsettlingly familiar.
    sconosciutothtronnmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 5 of 14
    I wonder how many states will decide that this is not suitable for children in K-12? Given some of the recent moves to remove books and restrict what parts of US History can and can't be taught and even to restrict children's 1st amendment rights of free speech and criticism, this looks like a huge great target for the anti-everything crowd.

    AppleZulusconosciutoGeorgeBMacronn
  • Reply 6 of 14
    mac_dog said:
    I wonder if they’re going to include Lincoln’s abysmal record of treatment of native Americans, or of that will be conveniently left out?
    Since there is only a finite amount of time available for the series, and since the series is primarily about Lincoln and slavery, I'm pretty sure that not everybody's pet issues will be covered. That doesn't mean the docuseries is trying to deceive anybody. Maybe you should watch it and judge it on its merits, instead of trashing it before it even airs? Just a suggestion...
    StrangeDaysGeorgeBMacronn
  • Reply 7 of 14
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,067member
    mac_dog said:
    I wonder if they’re going to include Lincoln’s abysmal record of treatment of native Americans, or of that will be conveniently left out?

    Not relevant -- unless you want to condemn the entire country in the 100 years preceeding Lincoln as well as after.

    Actually, you should be more concerned about how we treat them in today's supposedly woke world.

    Personally it bothers me that people will impose today's values and laws on yesterday's people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day.  Shouldn't we be more concerned about the profound injustices going on today?
    Actually it is relevant, to the person who asked the question. What gives you the right to determine what is or is not relevant, or what issues someone else should be concerned with? You seem to be getting very comfortable telling everyone around here what and how to think, Professor. And it’s getting tiresome. The article was about a documentary series on Apple TV+,  which you used, yet again, as an opportunity to push your politics and ideologies onto everyone. This site is dedicated to Apple news, stop making everything political. There are millions of other places on the internet more appropriate for you to regale everyone with your clever insights. And, by the way, nobody with even an inkling of historical knowledge believes that the battle to end slavery was a “simplified black and white question”. Maybe that’s how your generation viewed it, but I promise you that no one else does. 
    thtronn
  • Reply 8 of 14
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,309member
    Also, because the Lost Cause lie gets trotted out and regurgitated so often in these discussions, I will preemptively offer this important historical context. The Lost Cause idea was a post-Civil War disinformation campaign advanced by Jefferson Davis and others. In a nutshell, they fabricated a story that the Confederacy had been a noble fight for what ended up as a (*sigh*) lost cause to protect states' rights to preserve a simpler, nobler, more genteel way of life seen in the antebellum South. The war wasn't about slavery, they said. It was about states' rights to choose laws based on local preferences and traditions, free from federal interference. It just so happened as a minor side issue that Southern states wanted to choose to retain slavery, they claimed.

    This was all a contrived lie, of course. There are numerous ways to prove it was a lie, but the simplest is to look at the Confederates' own constitution. In it, they clearly expressed their priorities and what they seceded and fought for. Interestingly, in Article IV of that constitution, they nationalized "the institution of negro slavery," assuring that no current or future state or territory of the Confederate States could choose for itself not to allow slavery. So it turns out states' rights were of no consequence to the Confederates so long as they could keep their slaves.

    This all remains relevant, because there is an important lesson that advocacy for states' rights is a red flag that almost always represents a diversionary lie, seeking to apply a false veneer of nobility onto attempts to do nefarious things (like disenfranchise certain non-preferred voters who might be coincidentally descended from previously enslaved people) without meddling federal interference.

    Hopefully Lincoln's Dilemma will ultimately enlighten more than a few people to how all of this actually played out.
    edited January 14 StrangeDaysGeorgeBMacronnmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 14
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,309member
    mac_dog said:
    I wonder if they’re going to include Lincoln’s abysmal record of treatment of native Americans, or of that will be conveniently left out?

    Not relevant -- unless you want to condemn the entire country in the 100 years preceeding Lincoln as well as after.

    Actually, you should be more concerned about how we treat them in today's supposedly woke world.

    Personally it bothers me that people will impose today's values and laws on yesterday's people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day.  Shouldn't we be more concerned about the profound injustices going on today?
    Sorry, mate, but you really can't do much about "the profound injustices going on today" if you're willing to sweep genocide under the rug as "people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day." 

    Looking at the context in which people made their choices in a previous era is absolutely key. That is presumably what Lincoln's Dilemma is all about. We can't learn, change, and make better choices without doing that, but we have to do it honestly. Understanding context is incredibly important, like how contemporary context led or allowed people to make abhorrent choices, like rounding native people up and sending them away on death marches for hundreds of miles to reservations in barren territory because white "settlers" wanted to take the natives' fertile land and homes for themselves. Simply calling them "savages" and considering them to be less than human made it easier to do that. It has also made it easier to continue various large and small abuses of and profound injustices toward native people up to this very day.

    If you choose to learn nothing and write all that off as simply "people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day," it's just as easy to respond to "the profound injustices going on today" as nothing more than "people simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of our day." 

    "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." - variously, Churchill/Santayana/Burke
    edited January 14 ronnmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 14
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,860member
    Japhey said:
    mac_dog said:
    I wonder if they’re going to include Lincoln’s abysmal record of treatment of native Americans, or of that will be conveniently left out?

    Not relevant -- unless you want to condemn the entire country in the 100 years preceeding Lincoln as well as after.

    Actually, you should be more concerned about how we treat them in today's supposedly woke world.

    Personally it bothers me that people will impose today's values and laws on yesterday's people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day.  Shouldn't we be more concerned about the profound injustices going on today?
    Actually it is relevant, to the person who asked the question. What gives you the right to determine what is or is not relevant, or what issues someone else should be concerned with? You seem to be getting very comfortable telling everyone around here what and how to think, Professor. And it’s getting tiresome. The article was about a documentary series on Apple TV+,  which you used, yet again, as an opportunity to push your politics and ideologies onto everyone. This site is dedicated to Apple news, stop making everything political. There are millions of other places on the internet more appropriate for you to regale everyone with your clever insights. And, by the way, nobody with even an inkling of historical knowledge believes that the battle to end slavery was a “simplified black and white question”. Maybe that’s how your generation viewed it, but I promise you that no one else does. 
    Nah it's not relevant to the topic being documented in this particular documentary, which is the topic and thus determines relevance. If Lincoln beat his wife, that really isn't relative here either -- even tho it's an important issue and should be talked about. They're just different topics being featured in different programs. 

    Also, you misread what he said about the battle to end slavery *not* being a simple issue back in its day (nor the moral question, mind you, but the intricacies of ending it and how messy it got, as we all know). Re-read:

    We look on the battle to end slavery as a simplified, black and white question of:  "Should people own people -- or not"? But, in actuality it was far more complex...
    edited January 14 GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 11 of 14
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,309member
    Japhey said:
    mac_dog said:
    I wonder if they’re going to include Lincoln’s abysmal record of treatment of native Americans, or of that will be conveniently left out?

    Not relevant -- unless you want to condemn the entire country in the 100 years preceeding Lincoln as well as after.

    Actually, you should be more concerned about how we treat them in today's supposedly woke world.

    Personally it bothers me that people will impose today's values and laws on yesterday's people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day.  Shouldn't we be more concerned about the profound injustices going on today?
    Actually it is relevant, to the person who asked the question. What gives you the right to determine what is or is not relevant, or what issues someone else should be concerned with? You seem to be getting very comfortable telling everyone around here what and how to think, Professor. And it’s getting tiresome. The article was about a documentary series on Apple TV+,  which you used, yet again, as an opportunity to push your politics and ideologies onto everyone. This site is dedicated to Apple news, stop making everything political. There are millions of other places on the internet more appropriate for you to regale everyone with your clever insights. And, by the way, nobody with even an inkling of historical knowledge believes that the battle to end slavery was a “simplified black and white question”. Maybe that’s how your generation viewed it, but I promise you that no one else does. 
    Nah it's not relevant to the topic being documented in this particular documentary, which is the topic and thus determines relevance. If Lincoln beat his wife, that really isn't relative here either -- even tho it's an important issue and should be talked about. They're just different topics being featured in different programs. 

    Also, you misread what he said about the battle to end slavery *not* being a simple issue back in its day (nor the moral question, mind you, but the intricacies of ending it and how messy it got, as we all know). Re-read:

    We look on the battle to end slavery as a simplified, black and white question of:  "Should people own people -- or not"? But, in actuality it was far more complex...
    It certainly would be relevant, particularly in a nuanced "21st-century examination of a complicated man and the people and events that shaped his evolving stance on slavery." How did Lincoln's stance on one oppressed population evolve in comparison with his stance on the other oppressed population? Both issues were absolutely front-and-center in the 1860s, and certainly looking back from the 21st Century, we can see that a fundamental disregard for the humanity of nonwhite people lay at the root of both concerns. It's certainly evident that the documentary will focus on one issue, which is fine, but making at least a contextual note of the other issue would absolutely inform the complexity of the issue under primary examination.
    ronnmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 12 of 14
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,089member
    AppleZulu said:
    mac_dog said:
    I wonder if they’re going to include Lincoln’s abysmal record of treatment of native Americans, or of that will be conveniently left out?

    Not relevant -- unless you want to condemn the entire country in the 100 years preceeding Lincoln as well as after.

    Actually, you should be more concerned about how we treat them in today's supposedly woke world.

    Personally it bothers me that people will impose today's values and laws on yesterday's people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day.  Shouldn't we be more concerned about the profound injustices going on today?
    Sorry, mate, but you really can't do much about "the profound injustices going on today" if you're willing to sweep genocide under the rug as "people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day." 

    Looking at the context in which people made their choices in a previous era is absolutely key. That is presumably what Lincoln's Dilemma is all about. We can't learn, change, and make better choices without doing that, but we have to do it honestly. Understanding context is incredibly important, like how contemporary context led or allowed people to make abhorrent choices, like rounding native people up and sending them away on death marches for hundreds of miles to reservations in barren territory because white "settlers" wanted to take the natives' fertile land and homes for themselves. Simply calling them "savages" and considering them to be less than human made it easier to do that. It has also made it easier to continue various large and small abuses of and profound injustices toward native people up to this very day.

    If you choose to learn nothing and write all that off as simply "people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day," it's just as easy to respond to "the profound injustices going on today" as nothing more than "people simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of our day." 

    "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." - variously, Churchill/Santayana/Burke

    No, I sweep nothing under the rug.
    But, as you wisely suggest:  "look at the context of in which people made their choices".

    It is the context that matters.  In this case, the nation had been committing genocide against native Americans for more than a couple hundred years prior to Lincoln and, not only committing it but celebrating it.  To condemn Lincoln for a multi-century national policy that Americans mostly all supported and many actively participated in is very misguided. 

    If somebody wants to condemn that genocide they should be condemning a couple hundred years of American people and their values, ethics and actions.   To blame one person for what we as a people had been doing for centuries is absurd.

    And yes, I fully agree with you that we need to learn from the past.   As the saying goes:  "He who ignores the past is bound to repeat it".   We need to acknowledge what WE did to black people as well as to native Americans -- that is the first step in learning and correcting the errors of the past.  But condemning one person for what we as people did for centuries marginalizes that history and makes it possible to ignore it.

    edited January 14
  • Reply 13 of 14
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,309member
    AppleZulu said:
    mac_dog said:
    I wonder if they’re going to include Lincoln’s abysmal record of treatment of native Americans, or of that will be conveniently left out?

    Not relevant -- unless you want to condemn the entire country in the 100 years preceeding Lincoln as well as after.

    Actually, you should be more concerned about how we treat them in today's supposedly woke world.

    Personally it bothers me that people will impose today's values and laws on yesterday's people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day.  Shouldn't we be more concerned about the profound injustices going on today?
    Sorry, mate, but you really can't do much about "the profound injustices going on today" if you're willing to sweep genocide under the rug as "people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day." 

    Looking at the context in which people made their choices in a previous era is absolutely key. That is presumably what Lincoln's Dilemma is all about. We can't learn, change, and make better choices without doing that, but we have to do it honestly. Understanding context is incredibly important, like how contemporary context led or allowed people to make abhorrent choices, like rounding native people up and sending them away on death marches for hundreds of miles to reservations in barren territory because white "settlers" wanted to take the natives' fertile land and homes for themselves. Simply calling them "savages" and considering them to be less than human made it easier to do that. It has also made it easier to continue various large and small abuses of and profound injustices toward native people up to this very day.

    If you choose to learn nothing and write all that off as simply "people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day," it's just as easy to respond to "the profound injustices going on today" as nothing more than "people simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of our day." 

    "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." - variously, Churchill/Santayana/Burke

    No, I sweep nothing under the rug.
    But, as you wisely suggest:  "look at the context of in which people made their choices".

    It is the context that matters.  In this case, the nation had been committing genocide against native Americans for more than a couple hundred years prior to Lincoln and, not only committing it but celebrating it.  To condemn Lincoln for a multi-century national policy that Americans mostly all supported and many actively participated in is very misguided. 

    If somebody wants to condemn that genocide they should be condemning a couple hundred years of American people and their values, ethics and actions.   To blame one person for what we as a people had been doing for centuries is absurd.

    And yes, I fully agree with you that we need to learn from the past.   As the saying goes:  "He who ignores the past is bound to repeat it".   We need to acknowledge what WE did to black people as well as to native Americans -- that is the first step in learning and correcting the errors of the past.  But condemning one person for what we as people did for centuries marginalizes that history and makes it possible to ignore it.

    Nobody suggested condemning Lincoln as solely responsible for the genocide of Native Americans. One person here suggested that Lincoln's policy toward them was "abysmal," but that's not blaming him for all of the nation's prior and subsequent history. None of that is the same thing as simply acknowledging that Lincoln's response to that issue is relevant to his response to the issue of slavery. 
    ronnmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 14 of 14
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,089member
    AppleZulu said:
    AppleZulu said:
    mac_dog said:
    I wonder if they’re going to include Lincoln’s abysmal record of treatment of native Americans, or of that will be conveniently left out?

    Not relevant -- unless you want to condemn the entire country in the 100 years preceeding Lincoln as well as after.

    Actually, you should be more concerned about how we treat them in today's supposedly woke world.

    Personally it bothers me that people will impose today's values and laws on yesterday's people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day.  Shouldn't we be more concerned about the profound injustices going on today?
    Sorry, mate, but you really can't do much about "the profound injustices going on today" if you're willing to sweep genocide under the rug as "people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day." 

    Looking at the context in which people made their choices in a previous era is absolutely key. That is presumably what Lincoln's Dilemma is all about. We can't learn, change, and make better choices without doing that, but we have to do it honestly. Understanding context is incredibly important, like how contemporary context led or allowed people to make abhorrent choices, like rounding native people up and sending them away on death marches for hundreds of miles to reservations in barren territory because white "settlers" wanted to take the natives' fertile land and homes for themselves. Simply calling them "savages" and considering them to be less than human made it easier to do that. It has also made it easier to continue various large and small abuses of and profound injustices toward native people up to this very day.

    If you choose to learn nothing and write all that off as simply "people who were simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of their day," it's just as easy to respond to "the profound injustices going on today" as nothing more than "people simply living with and under the morals, ethics, laws and values of our day." 

    "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." - variously, Churchill/Santayana/Burke

    No, I sweep nothing under the rug.
    But, as you wisely suggest:  "look at the context of in which people made their choices".

    It is the context that matters.  In this case, the nation had been committing genocide against native Americans for more than a couple hundred years prior to Lincoln and, not only committing it but celebrating it.  To condemn Lincoln for a multi-century national policy that Americans mostly all supported and many actively participated in is very misguided. 

    If somebody wants to condemn that genocide they should be condemning a couple hundred years of American people and their values, ethics and actions.   To blame one person for what we as a people had been doing for centuries is absurd.

    And yes, I fully agree with you that we need to learn from the past.   As the saying goes:  "He who ignores the past is bound to repeat it".   We need to acknowledge what WE did to black people as well as to native Americans -- that is the first step in learning and correcting the errors of the past.  But condemning one person for what we as people did for centuries marginalizes that history and makes it possible to ignore it.

    Nobody suggested condemning Lincoln as solely responsible for the genocide of Native Americans. One person here suggested that Lincoln's policy toward them was "abysmal," but that's not blaming him for all of the nation's prior and subsequent history. None of that is the same thing as simply acknowledging that Lincoln's response to that issue is relevant to his response to the issue of slavery. 

    I sort of took it that he was blaming Lincoln.
    But part of it is my aversion to blaming a person -- any person -- for accepting or even participating in what was accepted and expected at the time?    We can condemn the policies, morals and ethics of a bygone era but to single out any one person for those ongoing societal norms is misguided. 

    That is, you can't change the rules and then blame a player for not adhering to them.

    And that is especially true in this case with Lincoln:  he had his plate full freeing the slaves.  Not only was the American ongoing genocide not on his radar but, if anything, he helped the native Americans by diverting the army from killing them and burning their homes to killing Confederates and burning their homes. 


    edited January 14
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